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Pedestrians have the right of way …. Or do they?

We get a lot of calls for pedestrians hit by motor vehicles. Sometimes the pedestrian is walking through a crosswalk, sometimes they’re crossing a street mid-block.

While motor vehicles are supposed to yield to pedestrians, pedestrians are expected to obey the law.

Walk Signals at crosswalks show a solid green person when safe to cross. When it begins to flash, that is a warning not to enter the crosswalk if not already in it.

The City or Municipality calculates how long it will take an average person to clear a crosswalk. That estimate is usually based on the average person covering 4 feet per second at average walking speed.

Therefore, presuming that most pedestrians enter the crosswalk on a solid Walk signal and will cover some distance before the Walk signal begins flashing, the length of time for which the Walk signals flashes is not likely enough time for someone entering while its flashing to complete their crossing. As such, think twice before beginning to cross if the Walk signal is already flashing.

In addition, even those crossing on a solid walk signal are often hit by vehicles traveling the same (or opposite) direction as them but turning onto the street the pedestrian is crossing. This is because, while motorists lookout for other vehicles, they often fail to keep a lookout for pedestrians or bicyclists. Never trust that they see you and will yield to you. Keep a lookout for those turning vehicles. Unless you make eye contact with them and are sure they both see you and are yielding to you, yield to them

Crossing mid-block is always dangerous, especially at night. Illumination is often subpar mid-block. Motorists aren’t expecting you to cross mid-block.

Even when a motorist does see you, they may not have enough time and/or distance to brake so as to avoid hitting you. A vehicle driving 35 mph covers 51 feet per second. At 35 mph, a vehicle would cover close to 51 feet during the driver’s “reaction timer,” which is the time required to process the danger and hit the brake pedal. At 35 mph, it would take an additional 135 feet to come to a complete stop. So a vehicle more than 150 feet away when you step off the curb might well not have enough time to stop before hitting you.

The moral of the story is, always pay attention and exercise caution, even when think its completely clear.

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